Parents·Posted on Aug 3, 2022I Took My 5-Month-Old Baby Abroad For Three Weeks — Here's What I Nailed (And Where I Failed)I've taken hundreds of international trips as a travel writer — but this was my very first one with a baby.by Evie CarrickBuzzFeed ContributorFacebookPinterestTwitterMailLink Hi! I'm Evie — and I've made a career out of writing about travel. So when I had a baby, I knew I wanted to travel internationally with her as soon as possible. Evie Carrick Travel is extremely important to me, so there was no way I was going to give that up just because I had a baby. I promised myself that once we got settled in, we'd go on a family trip — internationally, of course. But no amount of prior travel could fully prepare me for the art — yes, the art — of traveling with an infant. Evie Carrick I nailed some things (often by accident) and also completely screwed up a few things — as you might expect. 1. NAILED: I applied for her passport as soon as I had her birth certificate. Evie Carrick As soon as her birth certificate arrived in the mail, I started the process of applying for a passport. The processing time can take 8-11 weeks (plus the time it takes to mail it), so I didn't want to risk it. In the end, we got her passport just over 6 weeks after we sent off her paperwork (and no, we didn't expedite it). 2. FAILED: The passport process was painless — except when it came to getting her photo taken. Anchiy / Getty Images I spent the better part of a morning taking photos of her for her passport photo. At the time, she was only 1 month old, so getting her to face the camera with her eyes open was trickier than you'd think.I used Walgreens' passport photo service to print it, and in the end, they had to Photoshop out the wrinkles in the white sheet I used as the background (a requirement). The whole thing was a pain — for both me and the Walgreens staff — and I wish I'd just gotten the photo taken at the passport acceptance facility I used. 3. NAILED: In preparation for the "big trip," we did a few overnights in other places so she would get used to sleeping in other places. Evie Carrick I was worried that she'd have a hard time sleeping in unknown places — which is obviously a big part of travel. To test things out, we did a two-night overnight at a family member's house across the state and a three-night getaway at a hotel-type place. She slept normally in both instances. Phew. 4. NAILED: We chose Jamaica because it's close to home — and booked a trip for three full weeks. Evie Carrick I liked the fact that Jamaica was just a four-hour flight from Dallas (our departing US city), that it was an English-speaking country, and that we had friends there. We booked the trip for three full weeks (my husband and I both work from home) in order to give her time to adjust to the new environment. 5. FAILED: We booked our flights in two legs — first, a flight to Dallas, an overnight, then the flight to Jamaica. Evie Carrick We live in a tiny town in Colorado, so getting to Jamaica wasn't as easy as hopping on a direct flight. There was an option to do the trip in one (very long) day, but we opted to do an overnight in Dallas and do the trip in two legs: a flight from Colorado to Dallas, an overnight, and a second flight from Dallas to Jamaica. It was the same on our return.In the end, I think this was unnecessary and actually harder on us all. Two not-so-bad travel days felt worse than one horrible travel day, IMO. Plus, we could've saved over $200 by not booking a hotel in Dallas both ways. 6. NAILED: The Tula carrier (which I got as a hand-me-down) was key for on-the-go napping and transporting. Evie Carrick I really loved the Solly wrap when my daughter was tiny, but for this trip, we needed a carrier that was more versatile. Enter: the Tula carrier. You can wear it on your front with baby facing in and out (the former is great for napping), and it has a flap that covers their head and blocks out the sun. In addition, you can wear it on your back like a backpack, which was nice for hiking. 7. NAILED: We brought her car seat and rented a car. Apiwan Borrikonratchata / Getty Images/iStockphoto I went back and forth on this one, but in the end, we rented a car and brought along her car seat (airlines check it for free). As much as I resisted the idea of bringing along another piece of luggage, it ended up being a lifesaver.We used the car every day. And the car seat ended up being her safe place. She would literally kick and giggle when we strapped her in, and she took daily naps in the seat while we drove along the coast in search of the next great beach. 8. FAILED: We ended up staying in a remote part of the island — and I had major anxiety about access to hospitals and the like. Evie Carrick Prior to baby, I loved getting off the beaten track and seeing places most people don't have the energy, time, or courage to check out. Even though our intention was to keep this trip pretty low key, we ended up staying near friends in a remote part of the island that was a long way from the hospitals and services of cities like Kingston and Montego Bay. Both my husband and I had low-level anxiety about what we would do if something went wrong — not a great complement to a beach vacation. In the end, it all worked out, but if I was offering advice to a friend, I'd suggest staying on the beaten path for that first visit or two. 9. NAILED: At the last minute, I packed a beach tent, which ended up being crucial. Evie Carrick In retrospect, a beach tent on a beach vacation is essential (duh), but I was so focused on keeping it light and minimal that I almost left it at home. We have a PeaPod Travel Bed by KidCo (another hand-me-down), and I used it every single day. It was the only way I could keep my daughter from eating sand, and it provided a safe and comfortable place where she could nap bug- and sand-free. Plus, it packs down into a small tote bag. 10. NAILED: I brought the feeding basics, but didn't end up using everything I brought. Evie Carrick I am obsessed with BÉABA and use their baby dishes and snack containers regularly (I also have a Babycook). I brought their on-the-go spoon set, a bib, and a silicon bowl on the trip as my daughter had just started playing with foods. During the trip, we shifted gears and started baby-led weaning rather than purees, so while the bib and bowl were super helpful, the spoons were not. 11. FAILED: A full-coverage swimsuit is key — leave the cutesie baby bikinis at home. Evie Carrick I don't know what it is, but I have a thing for baby swimsuits. I literally have five. I brought four on our trip (excessive, I know) but only ended up using ones with full sun coverage (long sleeves and long pants). And of course, a wide-brim sun hat is key.My lesson: Looking cute isn't worth the sunburn. 12. FAILED: Same goes for clothes — even though Jamaica was hot, we put her in long-sleeve onesies and pants every day. Evie Carrick I brought plenty of cute little rompers and sundresses, but didn't end up using them (except to play dress-up in our apartment). In reality, even though it was hot, the sun was my biggest concern. Cotton onesies with long sleeves and light cotton pants ended up being my daily go-to. 13. NAILED: I did a TON of research on non-toxic sunscreen and bug spray and finally found the good stuff. Solidcolours / Getty Images/iStockphoto Putting sunscreen and bug spray on an infant feels questionable (as it should). Ideally, you would just keep them out of the sun and away from bugs, but since that wasn't possible, I did a deep dive on what products are best for babies. I ended up going with Badger bug spray and Waxhead sunscreen (the latter has only four ingredients, and it works so well I use it, too). 14. FAILED: But, I forgot to sunscreen her hands. Evie Carrick My daughter came home just as wonderfully pale as ever — except for the top of her hands. I did a great job putting sunscreen on her face and covering her body with clothing, but totally forgot about the tops of her hands. To this day, her hands are a little tanner than the rest of her body. 15. NAILED: I only brought enough diapers and wipes for the first couple days. Evie Carrick As you can imagine, packing enough diapers to last a three-week trip would take up a ton of space. I only brought enough diapers and wipes to last the first few days of the trip, then did a shop when I got there. This ended up saving me tons of luggage space. 16. FAILED: We improvised when it came to her bed — but a little extra planning would've made it easier on all of us. Evie Carrick When we left for Jamaica, my daughter was sleeping through the night, but during our time there, she started waking up in the middle of the night again. I have a feeling it had a lot to do with my lack of planning.One of the Airbnbs we stayed in had a pack ’n play, but for the most part, we built her a little sleeping fort on the extra bed using tons of pillows. In retrospect, I could've used the KidCo tent or made more of an effort to rent places that offered a pack ’n play or a bassinet as an amenity. Have any tips to share? I'll be doing it all again soon and would love any advice!